Excellent Primer on Real Foods, Where to Find Them and How to Use Them!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes--delicious and nutritious!

All the ingredients for soaked and cultured pancakes–delicious and nutritious!

If you are keen on where to begin on how to use real foods–maybe you’re even wondering where to FIND real foods–then you’ll want to invest in the fantastic education from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.  And, through the weekend of Thanksgiving here in the US, you can purchase Kelly’s trainings at HALF OFF!  Simply enter BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

What will you receive in Kelly’s trainings?  Here’s a breakdown:

For the Real Food Ingredient Guide E-book, you’ll find:

This revised version is cram-packed with new information.  What I’m most excited about is that it’s set up in a way that gives you exactly what you want in whichever format you need it in at the moment…

  • It has a newly revised 7-page quick reference guide for when you want fast answers to questions like,
    • Will you please just tell me what I’m supposed to buy?!”
    • Or when someone puts you on the spot and you need a quick reminder of “What was so bad about that food again?
    • Or maybe when you’re at the store you might need something to flip to for guidance there on various ingredients, including “good, better, best” options.
    • It’ll also help you know what to look for at your local farm and what questions to ask.
  • It has a more detailed section with facts on the different food groups and ingredients, for when you have time to dig in a little more, and it includes information on where to go for even more in-depth reading and research.
  • If you’re more of a visual learner, you’ll find an easy top ten real foods and top ten junk foods list in pictures.
  • It also includes new bonus material:  How to bring your family from junk food to real food, and how to overcome the six main obstacles everyone faces:
    1. Motivation – You won’t be willing to make a change if you don’t understand why it’s so important!
    2. Confusion/feeling overwhelmed – You’re probably sick of trying to navigate all the information from the ‘experts’ like what’s ‘good’ vs. what’s ‘not good’, especially when that keeps changing; and you just want to figure out the age-old question of “What the heck can I eat?!”  Especially before meal planning or grocery shopping…
    3. How to afford real food – You’ll learn loads of tips all in one place.
    4. Dealing with family complaints – This can wear you down at times, so I’ve got ways for you to get past this one!
    5. How to make time for real food – There are so many ways that I’ll bet you’ve never thought of!
    6. Sticking to it for the long haul – This is often what trips people up.  Life gets in the way and you find yourself slipping backward.  You’ll learn here how to prevent that from happening or how to get back on track.

And, for Kelly’s Real Food for Rookies Online Class, you’ll receive:

  • 12 weeks of online classes with videos, downloadable audios, and written materials.
  • LIFETIME access! Read/listen/watch at your leisure: on your break at work, while the kids are sleeping, in your pajamas, whatever! If you have a busy week, no big deal, just pick it back up on your own schedule.
  • Exclusive expert interviews with Sally Fallon Morell (President of the Weston Price Foundation), Dr. Kaayla Daniel (author of The Whole Soy Story), Jane Hersey (Director of the Feingold Association), Tom Naughton (Fathead filmmaker), and now one more: Jimmy Moore from the Livin LaVida Low-Carb blog!
  • BONUS: Free copy of the Kitchen Kop Real Food Guide
  • Save time and money while serving Real Food
  • Read labels and avoid dangerous ingredients
  • Make nourishing “fast food” meals to avoid last-minute trips to the drive-thru
  • Find healthier alternatives for soda pop, refined sugars, heart-killer oils, sugar-bomb breakfast cereals, factory farmed meat and more
  • Serve nutrient-dense foods that are necessary for good health
  • Take control of your health and change your family’s future!

Both of these tools are invaluable in your journey to greater health and empowerment for yourself and your family.  It takes a village to recapture  the information that’s been lost over the years in regard to how to take care ourselves with nutrition, and Kelly’s classes and information are priceless in their role of keeping you well!  And, from Thursday, November 28th until Monday, December 2nd 2013, you can get these classes and information at half price, by entering BLACKFRIDAY as you check out.

Wishing you the best!  Here’s to your health and the health of your loved ones!

Mediterranean Lamb Bake

Sprouted quinoa and grass-fed lamb bake, fresh from the oven

I’ll be the first to say that not every home has ground lamb ready to go in the freezer.  Pastured lamb is not as common in most kitchens as it once was. However, should you have the opportunity to purchase some, consider this recipe as an excellent way to put it to use.

And just because something doesn’t tend to be a regular part of our diet, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be.  Each food has its own unique nutrition profile, and consuming a variety of foods helps to keep us balanced and vibrant.  Dr. Jack Tips’ book, The Pro Vita Plan, speaks volumes about the importance of this practice.

And including a food as nutritious as pastured lamb in your diet is just a very good  idea.  Pastured meats tend to be much leaner than their lot-fed, grain-fed pastured counterparts, and the fat they do contain is much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and much lower in Omega-6’s (fresh grass is over 60% Omega-3’s, and, like us, these animals are what they eat.)  Pastured lamb is also rich in Vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a nutrient increasingly recognized for its anti-tumor, cardiovascular-supporting actions. (1)  US Wellness Meats is an excellent resource for pastured meats, shipped right to your door.

Another nutritional powerhouse in this recipe is soaked and sprouted quinoa, which I’ve cooked in grass-fed lamb bone broth.  Although quinoa is a food of the Andeas, and not the Mediterranean, it combines really well with the lamb.  If you wanted to be a real traditionalist, however, you could certainly substitute orzo or couscous, though I’d recommend soaking both beforehand.  Quinoa is gluten free, has its own healthy protein profile, and when it’s soaked and sprouted, many of the anti-nutrients found in all grains and seeds are broken down into easier to digest, less bothersome components (phytates, tannins and lectins, to name a few.)

I pair this with freshly made, plain yogurt and a bright green salad topped with raw garlic, cucumbers and ripe tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt.  It’s wonderful reheated in the toaster oven, or broken into steaming bone broth, a la matzo ball soup.  The kids love it, and the grown-ups do too, so it’s great as a casserole to serve at a dinner party.  And, of course, it makes for a quick lunch later in the week!

Mediterranean Lamb Bake

  • 1 pound ground Grass-Fed Lamb
  • 2.5 cups soaked Quinoa, cooked (preferably in lamb or chicken broth)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Feta Cheese, preferably raw and grass-fed goat or sheep, crumbled
  • Prepared Vegetables (I sliced Carrot, 1 sliced Zucchini, 1 diced medium Yellow Onion, 3 minced Garlic Cloves, 4 sliced Celery stalks) sauteed in 1 tablespoon Ghee or Butter until soft
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh Mint Leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Grease an 8″ x 12″ baking dish with butter or ghee and scoop in the mixture.  Smooth with a spatula and place, uncovered, on the bottom rack of the oven.

Bake for 20 minutes, then increase oven heat to a high broil.  Place dish on a medium-high rack and broil for seven or eight minutes, or until the top gently browns.

Remove from the the oven and allow the dish to rest for ten minutes at room temperature before serving.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Sprouted quinoa and grass-fed lamb


Veggies sauteed in ghee, with herbs and lemon juice added just at the end


Top-browning under the broiler


Delicious Mediterranean-style baked lamb and sprouted quinoa, with fresh yogurt

(1)  Visit www.eatwild.com/healthbenefits.htm for more information.

How to Properly Soak Grains

Oats soaking in warm water, infused with fresh water kefir.  Photo courtesy of Vera Almann.

If you plan to consume some grains in your diet, it is integral that you soak them first.  In another post, I’ve discussed why this is important.  Here, I’m going to share how.

Begin with fresh grains—not those from a bin, nor from a 25# bag that has been sitting in the pantry for a few years.  Purchase organic, and in small quantities, and then store any remaining raw grains in either the refrigerator or the freezer.

Take 1 cup of grains, and rinse well under filtered water.  Drain and place in a large, non-reactive bowl (ceramic and glass are good choices.)  Pour 3 cups of filtered, non-chlorinated water over the grains.  If you choose to Add about 2 tablespoons of fresh water kefir or even kombucha and mix in well.

Loosely cover the bowl with a paper towel secured with a rubber band.  Or, you can place the bowl, uncovered, inside a microwave or conventional oven, which will protect the mixture from dust and insects.  It’s best if the temperature is a little on the warm side, around 72 degrees Fahrenheit, for this soaking period—this will allow the activity of the enzymes to increase, as well as the healthy bacteria.  So, keeping on an incandescent light bulb nearby is helpful.

Soak grains for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.  You may notice a little bubbling at the end of soaking.  This is the process of lacto-fermentation, where the cultures are consuming the carbohydrate substrate of the grain, which in turn leads to fermentation.  You can let it go even longer, if you like—doing so will increase the tart, sourdough flavor profile of the grain you are soaking.  And, as with any fermentation, you’ll have a food that is lower in sugars and carbohydrates, enzyme rich (though this will be halted once the grains are cooked), probiotic rich (again, this will be destroyed through cooking), full of healthy B-vitamins and even further reduced load of anti-nutrients such as tannins, lectins and phytic acid.

You may choose to either discard or to use the soaking water—the verdict is out on which is the healthiest option.  In either case, dependent on your soaking time, you may not need to add additional water.  Whichever method you choose—to drain or not to drain—you’ll only need enough additional water to cover the grains by ¼-½ inch once they are in the cooking pot.  Add a healthy pinch of Celtic Sea Salt, bring ingredients to a gentle boil, then cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 5-20 minutes, dependent on the “doneness” you are seeking from the grain.

 Some notes on grains:
  • For large grain berries, such as wheat, kamut, rye and spelt:  Coarsely grind these before soaking, which will allow more of the water and cultures to get to the “meat” of the berry.  (If you are planning on sprouting these types of grains after they are soaked, then do not grind them.)
  • Some grains, such as quinoa (actually a seed, but treated as a grain) and rolled oats, soften quickly with soaking.  Despite this, I’ll often soak them for at least 12 hours.  I find that doing so definitely enhances the lacto-fermentation of the grains.

Salmon and Quinoa Burgers

Salmon and quinoa burgers--incredibly tasty and wonderfully nutritious!

I am happy to report that this first foray into fish-consumption for my kids was a total and complete success–the oldest even asked for seconds!  This is quite a big deal in our house, as our kids have been very stubborn about eating fish.  So glad this hurdle has been jumped!

These burgers really are that good–somehow, the pairing of quinoa with salmon tastes as right as peanut butter and jelly.  Like so many things, the quality of ingredients really counts…having fresh salmon that is not too fishy-tasting is key. And once cooked, the quinoa lends a mild nuttiness in the crispy portions.

These are quite soft patties before being cooked, and really best suited to a grilling pan, where they won’t fall through the grates of a standard grill (trust me, I tried!)  If you don’t have a textured grilling pan, then you can use a standard pan with plenty of butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking.  You could also bake them on an oiled baking sheet.

Their flavor and texture is a wonderful accompaniment to veggies that have been grilled, and they hold up very well when used in a toasted sprouted grain or gluten free bun, if you so choose, dressed with onion and tomato slices, and a sprinkle of capers.

Salmon and Quinoa Burgers

Makes approximately 16-4″ burgers

3 pounds fresh boneless, skinless wild-caught Salmon Fillets

2 cups soaked and cooked Quinoa, cooled

2 Eggs, beaten

1 small Purple Onion, coarsely chopped

1 Yellow, Red or Orange Bell Pepper

1 tablespoon dried, organic Dill

1.5 tablespoons Celtic Sea Salt

Ghee, Butter or Coconut Oil for the grill pan


Combine the pepper and onion in a food processor with the blade setting, and process until just blended.  Add the eggs, salmon, dill and salt, and blend again, just until the fish has broken into a smoother consistency.

Orange bell pepper and purple onion, just blended

Salmon fillets in the food processor with the veggies

Consistency of mix before adding the quinoa

Add the quinoa, and blend once more, just to mix the ingredients together.  You don’t want a totally smooth consistency; rather, something with a little texture of all the ingredients.  (If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the onion, pepper and salmon, mix in a large bowl with the herb and spice, pour in the beaten eggs, then add the quinoa, mixing all well to distribute all ingredients evenly.)

Cut waxed or parchment paper into 4-5″ squares, making about 16.  Using a tablespoon, taking heaping spoonfuls of the mixture and spread them onto the cut papers, making patties that are about 1/2″ thick and about 4″ across.  (Placing the mix on separate papers makes for a much easier application to the grilling pan.)

Salmon patties about to go into the grill pan

Over low-medium heat, coat the pan with the ghee, butter or coconut oil, and once hot, place the patties gently onto the pan.  Once you notice the texture changing after  2-3 minutes, flip the patties and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

The patty in the front is ready to flip; the one in the back has flipped and will cook for maybe another minute

Once cooked, serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Golden and delightful salmon and quinoa burgers!



Adding Some Soaked and Fermented Grains Back into the Diet…

Soaked and sprouting quinoa, draining in the colander (Yes, it is correct that it is not a “true” grain, but rather a grain-like seed…but we use it in a grainy way!)

I really like the concept of balance 🙂

Whether it is maintaining–even improving!–health with a solid mix of rest, creative outlets and hard work, or engaging in the social world and its counterpart, private quiet-time, there are so many ways to hit that just-right note of balance in the Yin and Yang of every aspect of life.

However, wouldn’t you agree that to really adopt a change in lifestyle, one has to hang out in the deep end of change for a while before moving back to the moderate depths?  You’ve got to flex your mental muscles a little bit, learn some new moves, before heading back to middle ground. Modern research supports this–new behaviors lay down new paths in our brain’s design, creating new pathways and neural communication.

Without big change, it is much too simple to return to old habits and there won’t be staying power with our new habits.

Personally, I’ve ventured off into the deep waters around nutrition many times.  And sometimes I’ve stayed in the deep a good, long while…my 14-year commitment to being a lacto-ovo-pescarian being one foray (translate: My very weak attempt at vegetarianism–high refined carbs, lots of soy and pseudo-meats.  My saving grace was the pescarian part…something in me knew it needed the nutrition of fish!)

It’s hard to appreciate how various choices make us feel without having first experienced something very different.  My years of sloppy vegetarianism, practiced in a manner that left me incredibly deficient in solid nutritional components, have helped me to appreciate SO MUCH how good it is to feel calm, nourished and BALANCED with the deep nutrition we feed ourselves now.

And, to that end, in the name of balance, we shifted from another extreme decision, to totally remove grains in the name of seeing how we felt.  Going off grains helped me to see how we used grain products as a lazy energy crutch.  A bowl of cereal here, some toast and butter there, a platter of pasta to share at dinner.  I realized how much nutrition we’d been cutting out by way of putting refined grains in the place of deeper nutrition sources.

When grain products are removed, something has to go in their place. Certainly, that could be any number of things.  For our family, that meant more produce, notably more veggies, especially squash, sweet potatoes and yams.  It also meant more nut flours, from soaked, dehydrated and ground sources.  And we ate many more coconut products–from flour to cream to flakes.  We also used the seed-like grains, amaranth and quinoa. Cooking with these types of foods was a big learning curve (one never appreciates all that gluten can do as relates to binding and shape until there’s not a speck of it in sight!), and I am very grateful for what it has done to broaden our perspectives on food and for the greater range of nutrition it brought to our plates.

But, what about balance?  Might there be a limit to the almond-flour donuts and coconut flour breads one should really be consuming on a daily basis?  Totally eschewing all grains is something that doesn’t seem moderate to me.

So I began looking more closely at the traditional methods of grain preparation, most notably as found in Nourishing Traditions, but in various blogs as well.  Our family descends from northern Europe, and I know traditionally-prepared grains are a food source my ancestors employed.  And by incorporating the techniques that lend themselves toward better assimilation of the nutrients that are stored in these foods, I felt that I could test the waters and see how we all responded to the inclusion of some of these foods in our diet.

Before we opted to remove grains from our diet, we ate organic, commercially-prepared grains, either in a sprouted form (bread or tortillas), as chips, or as gluten-free options (bread, waffles, English muffins.)

We didn’t do much in the way of traditional preparation of whole grains–meaning, if I made rice, I simply rinsed it then cooked it. Same for oats, corn meal or buckwheat, or any other whole grain.  In sum, we were eating foods that, for the most part, were not well-prepared to support their digestion and assimilation into our bodies.

But the traditional methods involve soaking the grain in warm water, with a little bit of an acid medium, for about 7-12 hours, generally.  By doing so, many of the anti-nutrients, enzyme inhibitors, complex carbohydrates and difficult-to-digest proteins (such as gluten and phytic acid) are broken down into much easier components that our bodies can handle. while at the same time increasing the enzyme activity of the grain, making their digestion much easier.

The above-mentioned acid medium can be fresh lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, whey from fresh yogurt, or my favorites, homemade kombucha or water kefir.  Personally, I’ve moved away from using whey because research has shown that the calcium in the dairy can inhibit physic acid reduction, thus, inhibiting the bioavailability of some minerals.  No matter the culture starter, though, the fact remains that the healthy bacteria (and yeast, in kefir and kombucha) will use the carbohydrates in the grains as an energy source, thus, predigesting the sugars and reducing them in the final product.

Additionally, warmth and time are needed for proper breakdown–starting with water in the room temperature range, left at room temperature (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit), for about 7-12 hours, gives a very good foundation for proper assimilation. And if the grains are especially big (rice, spelt, kamut), then opening up a little more surface area is a good idea.  You could even use a coffee grinder, and give a quick spin of the grains before soaking–just enough to break up the grain a little and expose more of its structure to the water and ferment starter.

And in that pursuit of balance, you’ve got to have some variety!  Soak, ferment and buy organic and in small batches, then keep them in the freezer so there is no concern for oxidation.  Try gluten-free or straight rolled oats, spelt berries, quinoa, rye, quinoa, amaranth and steel cut oats–all great choices.

Needless to say, this all requires a few extra steps, though it’s far from difficult–and I go into good detail on it in my book, The Funky Kitchen, and even GREATER detail in my 6-module course, Fresh, Fun and Flavorful in The Funky Kitchen.  But these steps, coupled with a tart flavor profile (thanks to the healthy bacteria consuming the sugars in the grains) and the richer texture of whole grains, lends itself toward lighter consumption.

And that is a balanced answer 😉

Turkey and Fermented Quinoa Patties

Sprouted Quinoa and Turkey Patties


These patties will be a lifesaver for you–they are a wonderful dish to have on hand for a quick reheat in the toaster oven, or as a protein entree in a brown-bag lunch (with a freezer pac!)

We love them straight off the griddle, paired with raw sauerkraut and a dollop of creme fraiche  (or, if you ask the kids, with organic ketchup!)  Another favorite is to break one up and top it with rich bone broth–such a nutritious meal!

They are just a handy, nutritious option that tastes great!  They are certainly worth the bit of time it takes to cook them, and even this can be shortened if you have a large griddle.

Turkey and Fermented Quinoa Patties

Makes approximately 28-30 patties

  • 4 cups cooked Quinoa (soak your quinoa in water and water kefir overnight before cooking)–I like to cook mine with bone broth for added flavor and nutrition
  • 2 pounds Ground Dark Turkey
  • 5 Pastured Eggs
  • 1 cup freshly shredded raw Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 teaspoons organic Poultry Herb blend
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen, organic Spinach
  • Ghee, coconut oil or grass-fed Beef Tallow for the pan
  • 12″ fry pan

Combine all ingredients into a glass or stainless bowl and mix well.

Melt a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan over low-medium heat.

Using an ice cream scoop or serving spoon, make 3-4″ patties that are about 1/3″ in thickness–in a 12″ pan you should be able to fit 3 patties easily.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown, then flip.  Allow another 3-4 minutes of cooking, then transfer to a non-plastic plate or dish.

Continue re-oiling your pan with each batch.

Patties store well in the refrigerator for 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months for reheating in the toaster oven or in a pan.  Wrap separately in parchment paper and use heavy duty aluminum foil or a freezer-safe container for storage.


Freshly-shredded raw Parmesan


All ingredients in the bowl, ready to mix!


Everything ready to cook


Patties ready to flip…


…et voila! Crunchy, savory, nutritious patties, ready to enjoy or to save in the freezer for another meal!

Sprouted Quinoa Bread

Watermelon radish, dijon mustard and sprouted quinoa sandwich–inspired by German cuisine! 

Sprouted quinoa bread smells like a dream while baking, and emerges from the oven a deep orange-brown, thanks to the addition of virgin palm oil. This oil has a distinct flavor that doesn’t work in all recipes, but it works here. It is very rich in Vitamin A, which is perfect for supporting the immune system, as well as the health of the eyes and skin. And, when added to the sprouted quinoa flour , the nut flours and the eggs, the nutrition in this bread is incredibly rich!

And, once refrigerated, the bread firms up beautifully, thanks to the healthy saturated fat content in the coconut and palm oils. Therefore, it makes a wonderful bread for sandwiches when cold; if toasted in the toaster oven, it will soften considerably, making it better-suited to a soft spread.


Makes 2 loaves in a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan, each about 3-4’ high (You may halve all ingredients for 1 loaf)

• 1 cup Coconut Flour

• 1 cup Sprouted Quinoa Flour*

• ½ cup Arrowroot Flour

• 8 T Flax Seeds, freshly ground

• 6 T Organic Whole Cane Sugar

• ½ cup Walnut Flour, freshly ground

• ½ cup Pumpkin Seed Flour, freshly ground

• 3 tsp. Baking Soda

• 1 ½ tsp. Sea Salt

• 1 cup Unrefined Coconut Oil

• ½ cup Virgin Palm Oil

• 16 Eggs


*I soak 1 cup of raw quinoa in fresh water and 1 T fresh yogurt overnight in the refrigerator, then strain off and rinse the quinoa. Next, cover loosely, and return to the refrigerator for another day. Look for the little white tails of sprouting—if there are none the following day, rinse again and return to the refrigerator. 2 days of this should definitely yield sprouting. Rinse one more time, then scatter the drained quinoa over a dehydrator tray and set the temperature to about 100 degrees overnight. The next morning, your quinoa sprouts should be dry and crunchy. Grind them in a clean coffee grinder for fresh, nutrient-rich sprouted quinoa flour!

Freshly ground sprouted quinoa flour 


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add all wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until well-combined.

Consistency of blended ingredients for bread 

Butter the loaf pans and pour in the batter. Bake for 45-50”, or until a butter knife pulls clean from the middle of each loaf.

Loaves fresh from the oven! 

Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 

The texture of the bread, up-close 

Watermelon radish, fresh from Tonopah Rob’s local farm 

Time to enjoy!